How to Remove Ants Naturally with Cleaning

by | Jul 8, 2024 | Ant Control, Pest

If you want to stay on top of ants without using chemicals, obviously cleaning is important. But how do you get the most out of your efforts?

Sealing Food

Ants are highly evolved foragers. Sometimes the colonies are referred to as “superorganisms,” because each ant works together in larger society towards the same end goal; make more ants.

If you’re trying to control ants without killing them, you’ll need to completely cut off any access to food.

So sealing food storage, and cleaning up any spills or crumbs is the most imporant step for keeping ants away naturally.

Starting with your pantry, make sure that all your dry goods are stored in flip-top glass jars with rubber gaskets, or plastic containers with snap together air-tight lids.

This step is paramount; you cannot skip sealing food away from ants if you’re trying to remove them by cleaning only. 

Pay close attention to sweets, sugars, jams & syrups, making sure that everything is enclosed air-tight and any drips or residues on the outside are cleaned away thoroughly.

Home-infesting ants will visit from time-to-time even with every single crumb of food locked in air-tight containers, but if they cannot access the food, they will have to go elsewhere to forage.

* Note: Yes, this means you’ll need to buy a lot of storage containers, so always look out for good deals on varying sizes of jars & tupperwares that will work for your personal food storage needs.

stored foods and spices in jars to keep ants out of house

How to Clean Ants in the House

Next, use a flashlight to inspect under kitchen counters, fridge, stove, dishwasher, appliances, furniture, crevices under baseboards & kickplates, anywhere where crumbs, spills and food residues could accumulate.

Once you’ve identified areas that need to be cleaned, use a broom or vacuum with crevice tool to remove crumbs, then use any natural cleaner to sanitize, remove any pheromone trails, and repel ants away.

* The best floor cleaner for ants is one that will thoroughly cleanse any food residues, and has a strong odor that will disrupt & deter ants from that area.

Ant Repellent Floor Cleaner


  • 8 fluid oz. distilled white vinegar
  • 8 fluid oz. water
  • 1 drop tea tree essential oil
  • 16 oz. spray bottle


  • Mix white distilled vinegar & water in a spray bottle & shake well.
  • Add tea tree oil, shake again.
  • Lightly spritz along floors, counter tops, baseboards, in bathrooms, cracks & crevices, anywhere where you’ve seen ants roaming. Use a cloth, mop or sponge to cleanse treated areas thoroughly. Re-apply as needed. **

* Use essential oil sprays with caution, or omit the tea tree oil, if you have birds, fish, or dogs, cats, or people in the home that are sensitive to chemicals.

Get Rid of Ants.   

Ants in Garbage Can

The three most common places in the house–besides the pantry– where food residues attract ants are garbage cans, compost bins & pet food dishes.

Garbage Can: To control ants in your garbage can, you’ll need to be selective about what goes into it. Any organic waste, food scraps, and crumbs should be separated into an air-tight compost container. Then, food containers, wrappers, and any trash contaminated with food residues should be cleaned with soapy water in the sink, along with your dishes, dried, then disposed.

Compost Bin: Whether you’re lucky enough to have your own backyard compost pile, have a municipal composting service, or dont have a composting option– food waste should still be separated and kept out of reach of ants.

All food waste should be stored in an airtight container. If possible, keeping food waste storage container in the fridge or freezer until pickup day is the best way to prevent ants in your compost & trash cans.

Pet Food Dishes: If you’re like me and your dog is a ultra-picky eater, having pet food constantly lying around is inevitable. Although not ideal for keeping ants away, it can be managed easily by placing your pet’s food dish inside a wider, shallower container, and filling with water to make a moat the ants cannot get across.

* Yes, this can be an immense amount of work. Some folks are happily committed to trying everything to keep ants out naturally without chemicals. Others with children, busy jobs or who simply don’t want to clean every chip bag and candy wrapper might choose a more integrated ant control strategy.

photo of overloaded garbage can

Best Way to Clean Up Ants

Making sure that there is no scrap of food for the ants to bring back to their colony is the best way to prevent ants in the house.

But what if you’re already having lots of ants appear frequently inside? 

The best way to clean up ants (if they’re already inside), is to use soapy water, or 1:1 vinegar solution to contact & kill the ants, then wipe away with a rag or towel to remove the ants AND their pheromone trails

* If you’re already having LOTS of ants, you should try to figure out what species of ant you’re dealing with. Many species of ants can nest inside your house, and in that case become difficult to remove with essential oils only.

Safe Ant Spray

If you’re wondering about cleaners vs. ant killer sprays, and which is safer– don’t worry.

Any household cleaner basically IS an ant killer & repellent spray. Soapy water, vinegar, even lysol, windex and bleach are all excellent at killing ants on contact & repelling them for a short while, and are safe for use around pets & children (once the sprays are dry).

diy homemade ant repellent spray ingredients with vinegar, tea tree oil and spray bottle


If you’re trying to clean ants in the house, you’ll need to clean regularly & thoroughly. Removing every crumb will force ants to search for food elsewhere outside.

If ants keep coming back after cleaning & following these steps, check out our information about using baits to help control ants without spraying.

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